Good Good Blood (also known as James Smith) is one of our favourite discoveries over the past 12 months and ‘Sun of a Gun’ is the result of a bunch of minimalist DIY recordings that took place in the spring. Available as a digital album or limited-edition cassette via Fox Food Records (with a photo print, thank you card and ‘small surprise’), there are very few remaining so make sure you order yours now.
The album opens with ‘Chasing Lanes’, a lucid slice of subtle folk-laden psychedelia that has rolling keyboards and handclaps. James’ silkily smooth yet distorted vocals glide in and around and the song stops in style, leaving you wanting so much more. It’s followed by the altogether lighter ‘Rolling River’, a melodic and heartfelt piece that talks about waves and oceans and reminded us of troubadours including Willy Mason and Gruff Rhys. ‘As Luck Would Have It’ is wistful and almost magical with its fragile observations on life, love and all its foibles.
The short and sweet ‘The Day I Was Born’ is full of honesty as James talks about his struggles with beliefs: ‘My god doesn’t show me if I believe’. He follows this up by talking about the scope of the great outdoors and you’ll feel like you’re in a remote, beautiful Scottish location with him: ‘Old mountain, you tower coldly over me’. ‘Summer Heights’ is altogether more warmer as he sings about the ‘slumber of summer’ although things take a deliciously dark turn when he threatens to ‘haunt you in your darkest nights’ and sings about soldiers dying.
‘Cedartown’ starts with a recording of water flowing before a gentle, gliding guitar comes in. The experimental nature of this song with hushed vocals and direct lyrics reminded us of British Sea Power’s more serene moments. ‘Will it Be Forever?’ finds James asking questions about his future and pondering what comes next, while hypnotic guitars loop around him. ‘Sitting Here in Silence’ is another one that is equal parts enchanting and unsettling with its drone-laden prog movements. It captures that feeling of the void you sometimes go into when you sit back and evaluate decisions made and their consequences.
The final ‘Nothing Left’ is a rather apt finale, it’s confessional and gentle and evokes Elliott Smith as he delivers powerful and visceral lyrics like ‘As I’m lying in the dirt, no one understands this hurt’; ‘Although my mind is always racing, I never show t on my face in your company’ and the rather fateful ‘As I Sit here all alone, everyone I know is gone’. With its recorded soundbites of nature contrasting against poignant storytelling and instantly hummable melodies, ‘Sun of a Gun’ is a quietly exceptional record from a very special songwriter.